Self-confidence built by necessity

When we do for our kids things that they can do for themselves we steal their sense of self esteem and self confidence. Insecure parents do things for their kids to feed off of that satisfaction of accomplishment. 

As a second / youngest kid, I always wondered when is it my turn to be the one to give, to initiate, to do. And I strived to mature fast. When I became aware of what others do for me, I tried my best to do for others or take initiative. My sense of responsibility coupled with the context of my upbringing, allowed me to have a lot of freedom. It was a delicate balance of earning the trust of adults and keeping that trust, but honestly I always felt I had to guard myself to not topple over into too much freedom. 

I did not have a curfew. I could drive my dad’s car, I traveled by train across the country before I was an adult. My parents were playing with fire on my dime. But on the other hand I was responsible and independent early on. I gained confidence that I can do it. That I can do anything I set my mind to. 

I have a hard time asking for counsel from family. I just inform them of my decisions. 

The question I wrestle with is how to empower my daughters to try new things, with safety guardrails. Their frontal lobe is not fully develop and they are a lot more daring than cautious. And as a parent I need to use my wisdom to let them be field by curiosity and try stuff. This is what I find to be the wise course of action. Motivating overcautious kids, cautiousness induced by parental anxiety or fear or worry, is more difficult in reality. 

I really put in a lot of thought into raising my kids, though on the outside I look casually carefree and trusting and relaxed. I pray for them, I wrestle ideas with them, I share my stories and I know that there isn’t a better time than today. I simplify or go deeper, depending on their readiness and ability to understand. That I do by instinct and based on hundreds of hours of small conversations over time, knowing them, their heart, fears, aspirations, abilities, skills and so on. 

When I pull back and I let them figure some things out, or I say I don’t know, even thought, if I would try to figure it out it would take me less time than it would take them, I don’t want to rob them of the satisfaction of solving certain problems. On the other hand, finding things around the house even if it wasn’t me that moved them, using my logic and my good eyes, I always find stuff. I guide them or share with them my tricks but this is the one thing they still struggle with. Finding clothes, books, toys, food in the fridge snacks in the pantry… and because none of those are ever a life and death situation, I let them struggle. Struggle to the point of frustration. Then I tell them to visualize the color of the thing they are looking for. And lo and behold, sometimes they do find it and it was right in front of them. If there is always someone who rescues, they won’t search like their life depended on it. May they pursue self-confidence by putting in the effort. Always.